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Frenchie and the Tomato Mango Crumble – with Lime Basil Sorbet

9 Sep

Have you ever noticed how the weather likes to viciously taunt us when the spring and fall seasons approach?

When it’s still cool and dreary in April, Mother Nature teases us with a short week of pure summer temperatures and sunny kisses to announce that la belle saison is coming soon and that we can look forward to basking in its warm joyful sunrays.

And then back to rain and gray. Just a tease!

The same thing happens at the beginning of September.

We just had a week of rain and 60 degree °F (15 °C) temperatures to make us realize that not only summer is almost done but we should really be thinking about the fall.

And then, back to 80 °F (27 °C) at the end of the week. Remember to continue to enjoy the last days of summer. Agonizing!

I woke up this morning with the nice exciting surprise to have been nominated by several readers for Best Food Blogger of 2011 on FriendsEat. I am including the badge to take you directly to their page so you cast your vote.

You can only vote once and polls close on September 23 at 5:00pm EST.

Click the badge to start voting!!

The nomination is a wonderful treat to end a busy and fulfilling summer. I am terribly flattered to be included in the same list as other wonderful and inspirational food bloggers.

Un grand merci to all of you readers!

So this is a farewell to summer post – celebrating warm months and the nomination.

Weighed down by the amount of tomatoes and basil from the community garden, something had to be done to make good use of the soon-to-be last harvests of the summer.

And if someone says pesto or tomato sauce again, I will make a French face no one has ever seen before. And it won’t be pretty.

The freezer is full of pesto and tomato sauce. Can’t. Take. Any. More.

I was craving something unusual, colorful, different and tasty.

Something that would combine vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Something that would remind me of summer and picnics on the beach.

Something that would take me back in front of a deep blue sea – or wade in a lake, sleep without covers, drive with the windows down, have dinner with friends outside, go smell ripe fruits at the farmers’ market, have a glass of rosé on the front porch, plant a garden, or simply stay home and read next to an open window while kids are playing outside and the cats lazily warm their bones in the hot sun.

Yes all of that, please!

So while discussing flavor combinations with recent guests, the idea of a crumble and sorbet was born.

Served together – a perfect dessert. Warm and cold. Sweet, acidic and sour. Unusual yet familiar. Appetizing for the eyes.

I need to credit Pascal Lacroix for the idea of combining tomatoes and mangoes as well as lime and basil during his recent visit.

Tomato Mango Crumble:

1 lb (500 g) of red cherry tomatoes

2 ripe mangoes

1 organic lemon

1 stick + 1 Tbsp (130 g) of butter

1 cup (100 g) of flour

4 Tbsp (50 g) of sugar

1/2 cup (100 g) of brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 410 °F (210 °C).

Boil water in a deep sauce pan and drop the cherry tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds. Place them under cold water right after.

Peel the skin off of the tomatoes. Cut them in half and discard as many seeds as you can.

(I find it easier to cut them in half first. The skin peels right off when you squeeze them. Remove seeds then)

Peel and cut the mango. Discard the pit and slice the mango in cubes.

Zest half the lemon. Juice the whole lemon when done zesting.

In a heavy saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp (20 g) of butter. When hot and bubbly, drop the tomatoes, mango cubes lemon zest and lemon juice in the pan. Sprinkle the sugar on top.

Coat the tomatoes and mangoes with the sugar. Mix well but delicately. Cook and let simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, use 1/2 Tbsp (10 g) of butter to grease an oven proof pan. You can decide to use 1 big pan or make several individual crumbles by greasing small gratin or crème brûlée dishes.

Combine the flour and the brown sugar in a big bowl. Cut the rest of the butter in small cubes and drop them in the flour-sugar mixture. Work the butter with your fingers so you end up with a coarse chunky rough crumble mixture.

Spoon out the fruits into the pan(s) discarding some of the juices and leaving them in the saucepan.

Cover the fruits with the crumble mixture and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. The top should be golden and the sides bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before eating.

Lime Basil Sorbet (adapted from MyRecipes.com):

1 1/2 cup (290 g) of sugar

2 cups (475 ml) of lime juice (13-15 limes)

1/2 cup (125 ml) of blue agave sweetner

2-3 cups of basil leaves – the more the better

2 cups (475 ml) of water

1 tbsp of lime zest

2-3 Tbsp of vodka – to keep the sorbet smooth

In a saucepan, cook the sugar, 1 cup of juice and the agave sweetner over medium high heat for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped basil leaves. Add as much basil as you have/can. Cook for 30 seconds.

Pour into a bowl and add the remaining 1 cup of juice, the water and the lime zest.

Chill in the fridge overnight.

Strain the mixture to discard the wilted basil leaves. Add the vodka and pour the mixture in an ice cream maker. Process until frozen depending on the machine and manufacturer.

Put the sorbet in a container and freeze. Make the sorbet 1 day ahead if possible before serving.

Enjoy the last days of summer! And remember to vote!!

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Frenchie and the Coconut Milk Pistachio Ice Cream

10 Aug

I’ve never been a fan of pistachio.

It used to be the one and only ice cream I would avoid as a kid. I remember swearing I would never eat it.

Yet, all I can think about these days are pistachios. Tastes come and go.

My recent challenge was to make a dessert for lactose-intolerant friends, which can be tricky because French desserts mostly contain cream or milk.

A pistachio sorbet really did not sound very appealing to me – the thought of mixing water and pistachios just does not remind me of something that would be tasty.

But with the warm and muggy weather outside, I wanted to make something cold and summery.

And then I discovered that coconut milk is not considered a dairy product – meaning it’s lactose-free not being a milky product coming from animals.

I guess I never thought more about it and because of the word “milk”, I wrongly assumed that it was part of the dairy family.

But after some careful research and thanks to Dairy Free Living, I decided that coconut milk would be a good substitute for milk and cream in my ice cream-making process.

Aren’t the best recipe ideas the ones that begin by accident or when one cooks in uncharted territory?

This is exactly what happened for this coconut milk pistachio ice cream.

Hints of rum, vanilla and coconut, the light crunchiness of pistachios and the rich, creamy texture of coconut milk make for perfect round scoops.

Coconut Milk Pistachio Ice Cream

13.5 Fl oz (400 ml) of coconut milk – roughly 1.5 cup (I used a light coconut milk)

2 Tbsp of cornstarch

1/3 cup to 1/2 cup (65 to 95 g) of sugar – depending how sweet you like it

5 – 6.5 oz (170-180 g) of pistachios

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 Tbsp of rum

Heat half of the coconut milk with the cornstarch in a small sauce pan. Whisk continuously until reaching a boiling point. The cornstarch will help the coconut milk thickens. Remove from the heat and pour in a bowl. Add the rest of the coconut milk and keep in the fridge for at least 5 hours.

When cool, check to make sure the coconut milk does not contain any lumps. Whisk if necessary. Add the sugar. Whisk again. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and rum. Whisk continuously.

Let the coconut milk stand for a few minutes. In the meantime, grind the pistachios until you get a very fine powder. Add the pistachio powder to the coconut milk and mix well.

Pour the mixture in an ice cream maker and process until frozen depending on the machine and manufacturer. Put the ice cream in a container and freeze. Make the ice cream 1 day ahead if possible before serving.

Frenchie and the Honey Lavender Sorbet

18 Jul

When I was young, I always saw my grandmothers and mother delicately bury little tiny packets of dried lavender – bundled up in cloth bags – in our clothing armoires and colorful sock drawers. I remember thinking that they were going a tad overboard.

Weren’t laundry detergents and soaps already fragrant enough? Did my socks really need to “smell good”?

But in the name of clothes fraîcheur and sent bon – smelling good – I grew up with lavender scents and delightful fragrant whiffs when it was time in the morning to pick out an outfit and open the heavy creaking wooden doors of the old armoire.

My feet should be thankful for all these years of basking in French lavender-scented socks!

Is this why I like to cook with lavender so much nowadays? It probably had an effect somehow. Chocolate desserts with lavender, chicken infused with lavender – I put it in my cooking whenever I can.

I am lucky enough to have a garden plot while living in the city. And I shall post pictures of the community gardens around my house very soon. I am growing lavender – of course – and paired with honey, it makes a floral sweet refreshing summer sorbet.

Having lavender in the garden also helps me make my own sock drawer air-freshener. That’s right, I am going a tad overboard! Crossing the ocean, I took with me the French lavender fraîcheur for clothes and imported it shamelessly for my own personal use.

What’s funny is that every other year or so, I still continue to get little lavender cloth bags in the mail au cas ou – yes, just in case – the laundry detergents here aren’t doing their job properly.

Honey Lavender Sorbet

2.5 cups (590 ml) of water

1/3 cup (65 g) of sugar

3 Tbsp of honey

2 Tbsp of dried lavender

8 lavender stems

2 Tbsp of vodka – liquor makes for a smooth and soft sorbet because it does not freeze. It will help your sorbet not freeze completely. Vodka is usually preferred because it does not add any flavors. If you prefer not to include vodka, just be aware that your sorbet will completely freeze. Remove it from the freezer at least 15-20 min before serving if you do not include vodka.

Boil 1 cup (240 ml) of water with the sugar, honey, dried lavender and the stems (place the entire stems in the saucepan, including leaves).

When boiling, remove from the heat and let it steep for 30 min.

Strain the liquid and discard any solids. Let cool.

Add the remaining 1.5 cup (350 ml) of water to the lavender-honey juice along with the vodka.

Pour the mixture in an ice cream maker and process until frozen depending on the machine and manufacturer. Put the sorbet in a container and freeze. Make the sorbet 1 day ahead if possible before serving.

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